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Full text of "In memoriam : Mrs. Mary A. Dixon, Mrs. Mary A. Payne."

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Mrs. iiarg A. 1mm. 


Born in Richmond, Va., October io, 1838. 
Died in Greensboro, N. C, Dec. ii, 1889. 
For thirty-seven years a child of the King. 

In writing an article upon the lives of these beloved Sisters, 
their work is so interlocked with the early history of the 
Greensboro Baptists, that it is impossible to speak of them in- 
dividually without dwelling largely upon the Church (in its 
infant struggles) of which they were so much a part. 

Sister Dixon moved to Greensboro in 1865 or 1866, some 
six or seven years after the Church organization in 1859, after 
Dr. John Mitchell, the first Pastor, had closed his labors. But 
from Dr. J. B. Richardson, with whom Sister Dixon labored 
throughout his pastorate, beginning in the winter of '70 or '71, 
we quote the following: " I preached my first sermon in what 
was then known as Garrett's Hall. I had but three hearers, 
Bro. W. B. Crump and Sisters Dixon and Potts. (Sister Payne 
was not living in Greensboro just at this time. ) The above 
three were the only ones who covenanted to meet my traveling 
expenses and board, in order that they might hear the Gospel, 
(as the Baptists hold it) once a month. With the first three 
hearers (who had called me to the Pastorate of this little 
church) we organized a Sunday School with Sister Dixon as 
Superintendent; also organized a weekly prayer meeting, thus 
unfurling our banner to the breezes of Pedo-Baptist Greensboro. 
I mention the above to show the spirit dominating Sister Dixon. 


It was in the face of bitter opposition that she took her stand 
for Religious Liberty, and her position can be more thoroughly 
understood when it is known that she was a woman of high 
culture and superb refinement. Reared in Richmond, Va., 
the stronghold of the Baptists, with mine own eyes I have seen 
Sister Dixon on her way to her Sabbath School, wading through 
snow six to eight inches deep, with a babe in her arms and 
leading another child by the hand, going thus for a quarter of 
a mile over a sidewalk not cleared from snow. Such faithful- 
ness justly inspired her pastor. Often I would say: «« Sister, 
how can you face such opposition and struggle on so faithfully?" 
Her reply invariably was: " Thus my Savior led and I am only 
trying to follow Him, and I am so happy in the work." 
Thus we quote but a few instances of the faithful devotion to 
her Master's cause of this noble woman." And from this 
nucleus of three sprang forth the growth of this Baptist cause in 

The following tribute was passed by the Sunday School 
December 15, 1 889: 

Whereas, It has pleased God, in His infinite wisdom, to remove from our 
midst our beloved co-worker, Sister Mary A. Dixon, whose faithful work 
for many years has endeared her to us, and who in her zeal for the Master 
was instrumental in the organization of our School, therefore be it 

Resolved 1st. That as a Sunday School we do deeply feel the loss of 
our beloved co-worker, yet we one and all must bow to the will of Him who 
doeth all things well, realizing that our deep affliction is her eternal gain. 
That to be at rest with Jesus is far better. 


Resolved 2nd. That wz express by an appropriate memorial our sincere 
and heartfelt sympathy with the stricken family in this their hour of trial; in 
brotherly love pointing them to Jesus who was Himself "A man of sorrows 
and acquainted with grief," and who alone can heal their grief stricken 

R. L. VERNON, Superintendent. 

JOHN THOMAS, Secretary. 

This was the esteem in which Sister Dixon was held by the 
Sunday School of which she was the first Superintendent. Two 
beautiful tributes were offered to Sister Dixon's memory by her 
former Pastors: Rev. Drs. Thomas Hume and W. R. Gwaltney. 
Dr. Hume writes through The Biblical Recorder: <« She has 
been identified for more than twenty-five years — (of my ac- 
quaintance with her) — with the varying fortunes of the Greens- 
boro Baptist Church. The close of the war found the " body 
of Christ" divided and cast down, but she adhered to it in 
evil as well as good report, and by her faithfulness and energy 
inspired the weak-hearted and unbelieving. Her religion was 
a matter of well grounded conviction and unswerving principle, 
yet surcharged with warm emotion. 

" There were a few good men, but what would they have 
done without the steady, flaming zeal and devotion of this elect 
woman and her few sisters in the faith." 

Rev. W. R. Gwaltney, her Pastor at the time of her death, 
writes: " Let me give you a few of her last words: " I am 
so glad I did not wait to make my preparation until now." 
" I want to tell Jesus how little I have done for Him, and how 


much I want to do for him." " I want strength to tell my 
children that I want them to love Jesus above everything else." 
Her sister said: " We shall miss you very much." She re- 
plied: " We must say, f< Thy will be done," 

Thus passed over the river, one of the finest spirits one of 
the writers of this little memorial ever had the privilege of 
meeting, and during the six years that followed the burning of 
the old church, and the building and getting the new church 
upon a broader, securer basis, Sister Dixon showed the same 
indomitable spirit that actuated her in the pioneer days — literally 
dying in the work she loved so well. 

Born August 8, 1832. 
Died January 19, 1904. 
She was the friend of the poor and sorrowing. 

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Referring again to Bro. Richardson's reminiscences of these 
two good women: — "Different in temperament and training 
from Sister Dixon, Sister M. A. Payne, moving from the 
country after six months of my pastorate in Greensboro, Sister 
Payne became the active co-laborer of Mrs. Dixon." Sister 
Payne — then lister Hyatt — was one of the Charter members of 
this Church at its organization in 1859, and was a great help 
from the beginning. Dr. John Mitchell, the first pastor, 
writes: — "She was a great help to us from the beginning. 
Of a Methodist family, she remained true to her convictions, a 
very decided Baptist and true to the Master." "She was 
patient and quiet, faithful at the post of duty, and ready for 
work. I could always rely upon Sister Payne. A great com- 
fort to her pastor and one of the best Christian women I have 
known." God be praised for such faithful women as Sisters 
Payne and Dixon. It is meet that the Church should praise 
them. Grace be with you all, 
Yours in Christ, 



Sister Payne was of especial help to Dr. Richardson in 
building the house of worship, located on South Elm Street. 
Bro. Richardson refers to a crisis when a heavy mortgage 
against the Church was about to be foreclosed: — "I can at 
this far away day see that Gideon's Band, Sisters Payne and 
Dixon, leading, going into the enemies' camp with the shout of 
victory. One attack of theirs I shall never forget: — "We 
had our little Church nearly completed, but there was a note 
of $700.00 in the bank, falling due, and we were notified one 
Saturday that our note would go to protest the following Mon- 
day. The pastor was told by the treasurer that there was 
only $150.00 to meet it. Sabbath day dawned upon the 
little band under a heavy burden. They assembled at the 
meeting house feeling that they had done all they could. After 
the sermon to thirteen members the situation was discussed. 
Sister Payne leading the faithful little band said "Let us try." 
Sister Dixon's heartily expressed "Amen" inspired them so 
that another sacrifice was made, and amid fervent prayers and 
tears Sister Payne broke the heavy suspense by saying "This 
House Shall Not be Sold!" Sister Dixon replied: — "Never, 
Never!" A second effort was made, when a sufficient amount 
was raised to meet the pressure. These Sisters relied upon the 
helping power of God — His power to move the people to 
come to His help, His help against the mighty. Dr. Richard- 
son sums up by saying: — "Never in all my forty years, 
mostly in pioneer work, have I seen and known such women as 


Sisters Payne and Dixon; others their equals or superiors there 
may have been, but it has not been my fortune to know them. 
In our earthly feelings Heaven is more attractive, as we think 
of them there, in that higher service they loved so mu:h on 

Brother Richardson herein voices the sentiment of all the 
older members of the Church who knew these mothers in 
Israel and their faithful pioneer work, as they laid broad and 
deep the foundation upon which others have builded. 


W. W. ROWE,